Crusader Chat Blog

The Challenge of Thinking Biblically

Feb 28, 2013

Posted on February 28, 2013 by Kathryn Day As much as we desire to fight against it, the ideas and beliefs of our culture are constantly trying to influence our way of thinking as Christians.  The struggle to strive for Christ-centered thoughts, motives and desires instead of chasing after worldly pursuits is hard enough for adults, but especially for children.  So what does it look like to teach them to process what they see and hear in the world around them from a Christian perspective? One of the things that I have been most impressed with about our 4th grade Bible curriculum here at the Day School is the way it defines certain “character building” words.  With each Bible lesson that we study, there is a character trait to define and discuss with our students.  Most often the definition that our curriculum gives differs greatly from the definition that our culture would give of the very same word.  What has been so eye-opening and convicting to me is seeing how much the culture has slipped into my own way of thinking! For example, how would you define self-control?  Both teachers and parents use the term frequently in addressing children’s behavior, but what is it exactly that we are expecting of them when we ask them to show more self-control?  Webster’s Dictionary defines self-control as “restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions or desires.”  If I am honest, when I tell students to practice more self-control, this is typically what I have in mind!  I desire for them to hold back their impulsive talking, their complaints about an assignment, their frustrations with another student or situation, etc. But our 4th grade curriculum defines self-control as “giving up total control of oneself to the Holy Spirit.”  What a completely different, yet Biblically based definition!  As Christians we aren’t called to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and work to better ourselves on our own, but to freely admit our inability to change apart from the help of the Holy Spirit.  As this definition so wisely states, when I give up control of myself and surrender to the control of the Holy Spirit, only then am I able to see God at work changing my behavior and making me more self-controlled.  A life controlled by the Holy Spirit is a life of self-control! In talking about these character traits with our students, I have been reminded over and over of how important it is that we teach them to think Biblically and process what they see and hear in the culture around them through the lens of Scripture.  Encouraging them to take everything back to the truths they know in the Bible is essential.  It has also been a tremendous challenge to me personally in realizing my own tendency to let the world influence my way of thinking.   What a reminder that we ALL are dependent upon the Lord to teach us how to live a Christ-centered life and keep our hearts and minds fixed on Jesus.

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Sowing the seeds of language…A blessing for you AND your child!

Feb 12, 2013

Posted on February 12, 2013 by Kathy Henley Going to graduate school in my 40s was quite an adventure….My two older children, then in high school and college, gave me great tips about the best way to carry a heavy backpack, and many helpful ideas about writing all those research papers!  It was enlightening to see things again through their student eyes. My new focus, reading disability, was also enlightening, as this was the exact opposite of my initial training.  I had been in the general classroom for many years, and I found that I needed to put on new “glasses” to process and understand much of what I was learning.  The journey was challenging, but in the end, it was deeply rewarding. One of the most enduring lessons I learned in graduate school was how the process of language acquisition begins at birth, with the primary language functions of listening and speaking. What we commonly think of as “academic language”….reading, writing, and spelling, are considered secondary language functions, with roots deeply entrenched in those early years.   As parents, we are blessed to have the opportunity to help “sow the seeds of language” in our children. Years before children ever write a paragraph in school, they are in the process of developing a language base upon which to draw vocabulary, experiences, and general knowledge about life. As parents, we have the unique privilege to assist in this process.  Reading to your child helps to sow the seeds of language by exposing your child to new and varied vocabulary.  It also provides your child with the opportunity to delight in story themes, characters, and situations. When you read to your child, you have the opportunity to stop and define the meaning of a word, or monitor your child’s understanding of the plot. You also have a wonderful opportunity to develop and reinforce Biblical principles as you discuss the characters. Even as we marvel at the current digital revolution, there is just no substitute for these real-time reading experiences with your child!  All these early reading experiences become a part of your child’s “language bank”, to re-emerge in later years—-enveloped within the paragraphs and stories we are so delighted to see our children write! Research has shown that children who lack a deep foundation in oral language tend to have difficulty writing in school. Remember, children must “own” words in their oral vocabulary first before they are able to use them effectively in sentences. It is also important to understand that for the first few years of school, a child’s listening comprehension exceeds his reading ability. Children are able to listen to far more richly developed stories than they can yet read themselves!  This is the perfect time to add to your child’s language bank by reading wonderful, classic literature. I remember so vividly my parents reading The Chronicles of Narnia and Swiss Family Robinson, among many others, to me as a child.  Making a language-rich environment a priority for your child is truly a win-win!  Not only are you sowing those all-important seeds of language, you are creating deep and enduring bonds by giving your child your TIME—the most precious gift of all. Author Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook is one of many wonderful resources for choosing read-aloud classics. Here at FPDS, Mary Thompson and Karen McBride, our beloved library staff, is the best resource of all!

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